BLOODSHOCK

The name of the game is PAIN

The name of the game is PAIN

I always found that the Guinea Pig filmography, whether they be the original Japanese series or Stephen Biro's recent US continuation, exist to serve two purposes for it's audiences. First, and probably the most obvious, pushing the boundaries of emotional discomfort - testing the threshold for visceral, unflinchingly raw, and brutally realistic violence. Second, to push further and further the limits of practical effects, incorporating the best most effective ideas of previous films, and building on-top with even more grandiose displays of technical proficiency, with each new entry in the series providing more visual punch than the last.

Now on the surface, Bloodshock may seem like your run-of-the-mill gore-porn setup, used as a vehicle to deliver solely what the film's poster would imply - hard to stomach violence. The synopsis, taken directly from the film's official distribution site, Unearthed Films:

A man finds himself trapped and used for medical experiments in an abandoned mental facility. He doesn’t understand why or how he got there, but the surgical tortures allow him to experience a new level of pain, sadness and reality he has never felt before. As the levels of maniacal mutilation enfolds, he finds himself down the rabbit hole. Grasping onto anything, the tormented finds a way out. Clutching onto what every human being is desperate for... little does he understand, his ending is all of our endings.
hope?

hope?

So imagine my surprise when the film threw me a curve ball, and added a legitimately thought-provoking story through a compelling narrative, on top of what was already expected. This gore-fest is not only bringing the blood and guts, but profound emotion as well, and director Marcus Koch does an excellent job leveraging Stephen Biro's writing and parlaying that into a successful drama (one obviously wrapped in many levels of depravity), that again, we didn't see coming. We're not going to give up the juicy details regarding the story-line twist, but let's just say the film's central character (played appropriately somber and vulnerable by Dan Ellis) does not endure the torturous sequence of sadism completely alone, with the film ultimately ending on a bloody, cathartic exclamation point (which consequently, outside the post-credits, is the only scene in full color).

Of course, that's not to say Biro and Koch don't bring their "A" game when it comes to the shocking, gory scenes you came here for. Though Bloodshock's brand of gruesome leans a lot more heavily on the clinical side, the actual practical fx work is so masterfully executed that you'll be squirming and gagging with every incision made, bone broken, and organ exposed proving yet again that Cat Bernier, Melanie Dean, and Marcus Koch know just how to get under your skin! The film's soundtrack too, comprised of grungy metallic shrills, and always looming like the impending doom promised to the victims themselves, goes a long way in elevating the already disturbing imagery to new heights - kudos to Kristian Day, Stephen Nemeth, and Keith Voigt Jr. for aurally matching the on-screen violence.

The look of defeat, and acceptance.

The look of defeat, and acceptance.

By the time you're reading this review, news of a third American Guinea Pig entry should have already begun to circulate, that one focusing on demonic possession and exorcism, which indicates to us that Stephen Biro is dedicated to shedding any and all criticism that his revival of the series was nothing more than an attempt to cash in on an established cult classic. It's already apparent with the multi-layered Bloodshock that this certainly is not the case, and in fact with only two films into the new series, one could argue for these being better horror films entirely; if Song of Solomon (the third film) is as uniquely different and consistent in quality as Bloodshock was to Boquet of Guts and Gore, Biro is on his way to also having the better Guinea Pig series as well.